For this first volume in the Digressions series, Kapwani Kiwanga talks with Corinna Ewald, Smaranda Olcèse and Julie Pellegrin about the sources of her Ujamaa exhibition and its journey into belief systems mingling supernatural powers and political utopias.
In a singular career leading from anthropology to the visual arts, she has brought to light unexplored interspaces between fiction and documentary, science and magic, politics and the poetic, and taken advantage of her training in the social sciences to develop experimental projects with herself in the role of researcher. Her method consists in devising systems and protocols that act as filters for observation of different cultures and their capacity to mutate.
Here she addresses the two interconnected projects making up her exhibition at the Ferme du Buisson: the magic powers of plants in a context of political and social resistance, and in particular their use by Kinjeketile, a healer who urged the peoples of East Africa to rise up against the German colonial regime; and the concept of Ujamaa, the basis of Julius Nyerere's pan-African socialism. Kapwani Kiwanga also returns to reactivation of the past as a means of studying the present, and the importance of speech as a tool for transmitting knowledge and stimulating action.
Digressions is a series of conversations with artists. Initiated by La Ferme du Buisson - Centre for Contemporary Art in association with Captures editions, the series accompanies the art centre's exhibition programme. Taking as their starting point a group discussion, these publications offer an insight into the thinking, the references, the methods – and sometimes the meanderings – that fuel a creative process.
Smaranda Olcèse is an art critic who also makes videos covering the performing arts and contemporary arts exhibitions.
Julie Pellegrin is the director of the Ferme du Buisson Centre for Contemporary Art, and Corinna Ewald is in charge of media relations at the Ferme du Buisson.
authors Kapwani Kiwanga / Corinna Ewald / Smaranda Olcèse / Julie Pellegrin
publisher Captures éditions / Ferme du Buisson
general editor Valérie Cudel in association with Julie Pellegrin
editorial coordination Céline Bertin
graphic design Claire Moreux
copy editor Sophie Streefkerk
english translation John Tittensor
publication date 2017
languages French / English
format 21,5 x 13,5 cm + postcard
price 6 €
printing Imprimerie Simon, Ornans (France)
distribution Les presses du réel